Sunrises have become a bit of a thing this holiday. As we had requested, and gained, such a good room, getting up was never really negotiated, it just happened. Another 5am start, which strangely, wasn’t an issue in my mind at all.When you wake up with a view of Ha Long bay, sunrise is just a necessity. When we got up, however, the bay seemed quite misty, and we weren’t sure which direction over the bay the sun would actually rise. The sky was getting a little paler, but there was no sign of the actual sun.
Melissa and Sally joined us on our balcony, as Lara and Mairead popped their heads around from theirs. A little sunrise party! Eventually, having sat there for a while, the Sun peaked over one of the Limestone isles, and the haze started to lift a little. It may not have been quite as good as Nha Trang, but the location, and the beauty made it a very impressive sight. Definitely worth getting up for. We got some lovely pictures. It’s such a shame that we had to leave for Hanoi, I don’t think anyone wanted to go. No one seemed to be enthusiastic about it, and no one seems to have heard many good things about the place.
We got breakfast, and of course lunch, from the buffet – we’re becoming quite skilled at it – and got onto the bus. Despite the early morning, I wasn’t tired at all on the bus journey. Neither was Jade and Leianne, we had a flashback music session, listening to boyband hits from our youth. It was a lot of fun, and distracted me from the unpleasant driving that was going on around us. I lost count of how many times we escaped a crash on the 3hr bus journey.
Hanoi, once we got into the city proper, was a chaotic mess. I really don’t think there is anything more polite that you can say to describe the city. Everyone drives in any direction, there is no concept of a side of the road to drive on, or following road signals, it’s just a free fall, walking is like a hunger games arena. Blind faith and courage is needed every time you need to cross the road. Walking at home is going to be a breeze in comparison to here.
We wandered around the city, led by Lek. I was still uncertain about the roads, but quickly realised not looking was key – if you couldn’t see it, it wasn’t about to hit you. We visited the Lake, bought tickets for the water puppet show, walked through the rich quarter feeling very out of place, and went to look around the market. It was considerably less touristy than the one we visited in Ho Chi Minh City. Outside, I felt someone slip their hand into my pocket, very glad I don’t store anything in there – we don’t want an incident.
A few people wanted to try dog for tea, but I didn;t really want to go out of my way to find it. A few of us went to a small local restaurant, which was nice, before joining people, and another tour group fondly known as ‘The Germans’ for a drink in ‘Local’ bar. It had wifi, which made a nice change from the hotel. I am trying not to be needy, but it is annoying when you expect something, and then it cuts out while you’re using it. I wouldn’t have minded as much if the lift didn’t feel like it was operated by snails, or we had been given toilet role. Rant over – sorry!
We met everyone, and quickly felt out of place in what we were wearing, so we accompanied (carried) ‘The Germans’ tour guide home, before changing and returning. It was a lovely night mixing groups and having a laugh, and it was one of ‘The Germans’ birthday (she is actually from Glasgow, not German at all) which added an extra dimension to the whole night.
Hopefully I will warm a little more to Hanoi tomorrow. I’m not holding my breath though.